Day Zero: May 16, 2023 Appalachian Trail- Ready or Not, Here I Come

What a whirlwind of activity the last few days have been. Getting ready for a trek like this can take some time. Resupply boxes were packed, in fact my hubby has already mailed one out! Before I leave, there is already a box in transit. That’s efficiency.

Such is Life on the Trail

Last weekend, my dearest friends hosted a send off for “yours truly.” The best of friends, all my hiking partners from days passed celebrated my returning to this way of life. As I looked around at the most beautiful women I know, I could only thank the Lord for such incredible and lifelong friendships. We laughed and toasted to the many treks we have shared, and the ones we have not yet experienced. We contemplated the many rewards and satisfaction we have gleaned from walking in the woods, and the memories and mishaps we recalled on the hikes we’ve completed. It was a hoot reliving the many miles we covered, the unexpected boat ride for a broken leg, the bears we scared away, the trail names we have earned and the countless passes we have climbed. There is something special when you share this story of worn out trail runners, our love for long distant backpacking, with such hearty souls. And to think, we have many more miles and smiles still to come.

My Many Hiking Partners

Now that I have said farewell to the ones I care so deeply for, I can’t help to embrace the ones I have yet to meet. Who will the Lord lead me to? What will he have me share with them? And will I even know what to say? Thank goodness I need not fret because my sweet Jesus already has it planned for me.

Flying out via JetBlue

As I arrive at the airport, my heart skips a beat. This is it, what I have set to accomplish months ago. The goal is to connect the dots from Catawba, Virginia near McAfee Knob to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. God-willing and my able part, I shall be placing my feet on the trail by noon tomorrow-Wednesday. There will be a gauntlet of obstacles to bypass like two plane rides to Washington D.C., subway to Union Station, Amtrak to Harpers Ferry and a good nights rest after being up for forty hours! I should’ve planned it better than this, but cheap flights are just that. Red-eye and packed planes are part of the adventure! Watching old movies, eating pretzels and drinking soda water, and hoping that your window seat has a little extra legroom.

Boston, Massachusetts

Arriving in Boston after two hours, sorta, of sleep, I’m thinking 🤔 how come I’ve never been to this city? It is gorgeous. It is situated on the Atlantic Ocean with water on all sides. From up above, I’d think the city is floating on some offshore island. There was a huge cross, which lit up on a hill, protecting the airport and surrounding burbs from uncertain enemies and ferocious storms. I’m typically not an alarmist but these lowland parcels adorned with elegant homes appear to be hovering on a spit of sand. Call me crazy but California Wildfires have nothing on the Cape and it’s relentless pounding it must receive from the Northeasterns! Luckily for me I’m just passing through, but I definitely would love to come back and visit this gem of a place.

Welcome to D.C.

I wonder what Biden is up to today? I wasn’t invited to the White House this time around. Hard to believe but I do plan to make my way to Library of Congress. I love a good book to read while I’m waiting for my mid-afternoon train. So after going underground on the Metro, I surfaced at Union Square. This is the place where trains and buses converge. In US, we have one train and that’s Amtrak. I checked my backpack in for safe keeping at a going rate of $10 per bag. Now I am free to mill around D.C. First things first, find food. I asked the local Metro Police where to find a good diner. He pointed to an outdoor Deli that proved to be worthy of hearty eats. Now that I am full and satisfied, if I head to the Library I will definitely fall asleep. So I’m going to walk, and see what peaks my interest.

Metro Yellow & Red Line
to Union Station

As I’m walking the plaza, I tuned into my daily words of wisdom from Bayside Church. Pastor Kevin shared with me today that God created me, gave me my own thoughts and desires, emotions and purpose. The interesting part of all this is, no matter what happens, I am only in control of myself. I cannot dictate what my friends or family choose to do or how they live. That is entirely up to them, but what I can do is influence them in a positive manner, filling them with hope and love. This has been a tough lesson for me as I tend to find responsibility in how others turn out. Did I lead them astray, did I not come down hard enough or did they just choose different paths? When you have children or grandchildren for that matter who make life-altering decisions, how do you respond? In love or denial? With hope or frustration? Or a bit of all the above? As I was praying about this, I have to confess, it is hard to make tough choices! It is difficult to accept that someone you love so dearly can make a choice that drastically alters their course. Yet God tells us that if you raise a child in love, and you teach him the ways of the Lord, they will return. So part of my journey this year is allowing myself some grace, and trusting God that he will be the compass, not me. That our Jehovah will always give us a second chance or a hundredth opportunity to find our way back. And that I can only control myself, influence others and expect God to be God!

The United States Capitol

One of the most iconic and revered buildings in the world, the US Capitol is home of our governing officials. The history of the United States Capitol Building begins in 1793. Since then, the U.S. Capitol has been built, burnt, rebuilt, extended and restored. The Capitol that we see today is the result of several major periods of construction; it stands as a monument to the ingenuity, determination and skill of the American people.

Make the Road Nevada 🤷‍♀️

Daily, our Congress meets, convenes, argues and disagrees in this building. I wonder if it was like that in the 1800’s? Probably so but maybe not as public. Without the instant media and social networks, it could take weeks, if not months to share the news of discontentment! And maybe, just maybe they could all work it out before it hit the press. D.C. is hustling and bustling place with lots of Business Suits, High Heels and News Reporters! I think I’ll keep heading east to the trail. Not my cup of tea.

Let Liberty Ring – Pass & Stow

Heading back to Union Station, I took a rest on the lawn. I was a bit concerned as I didn’t see anyone else laying on the grass. Hopefully I won’t be picked up for vagrancy. I’m not pitching my tent but I definitely am a bit out of place. There are no camps setup, nothing on the manicured lawns or the sidewalks. Not a single encampment in front of the rail station, only a few Town Criers but they are moving along. Maybe it’s too cold in D.C. or possibly Biden won’t tolerate any homelessness in his city!Whatever it is, they keep a tidy community here. No trash, no filth, everything is in its place. San Francisco should get some useful tips from our Nation’s Capitol.

Harpers Ferry in the Fall

My final leg before I arrive in Harpers Ferry. Amtrak, here I come. I took Amtrak when I returned from the Colorado Trail a couple of years back. I really like traveling on a train as they explore the best scenery our States can offer. I’m sure this route will be much of the same. Harpers Ferry is rich in historic value. It is the easternmost town of West Virginia, established in 1751 with a Population of 285. During the Civil War, it was the northern most point held by the Confederate-controlled Territory. Situated on the Shenandoah and Potomac River Confluence, Harpers Ferry is where Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia meet. And it is the Appalachian Trail Headquarters 😊 where I pick up my coveted Trail tag.

The Sold-Out Amtrak Train #29

Good thing I bought my ticket last week. This train is sold out! Who would’ve thunk? It’ll be a relatively short ride, one hour. The gal sitting next to me is headed for Chicago. She has a long ways to go. With a little bit of luck, I’ll be supine before long. No evangelism today. The Holy Spirit is sleepy. Just shortly after 5pm, the train came to a slow speed stop and I exited. The Town’s Inn is up a flight of many stairs on the street overlooking the River and train tracks. Such a quaint little town.

Harper’s Ferry Main Street

I checked in to my room for the night. It has two single beds and I have both beds to myself. Oh, glorious beds! One was firm and one is soft, so I am sleeping on my nice firm bed, overlooking the Potomac River. It’s absolutely perfect. I walked the town a bit and gathered my bearings. I’ll get up and have breakfast in the morning, head up to the ATC, check-in, then hit the trail running. Until Wednesday, I’m heading to bed. This girl is wiped out and needs some shuteye. Oh, my little suite has a Bible and small devotional books. Jesus has me right where I need to be.

Looking Out From My Bedroom Suite
And get some rest! Amen

What’s Next

One week and counting. Oh my, the hardest part has started. What’s that, you ask? Packing my Resupply Boxes. I’m asking myself why I don’t just buy food along the way? There are certain foods I desire, and then there’s the need for adequate nourishment, which I find difficult to achieve in the convenient stores. I like certain coffees and teas, I love my biscotti in the morning and I must eat a desirable dinner at night. I enjoy cooking, even on the trail, adding vegetables and creamy broths to a bland couscous or rice. Sounds crazy, but these are my creature habits. Oh and I really enjoy a face mask! Such a girly thing but it makes me feel, almost, human-like!

Zoey Scouting for Doggie Treats

Now my Den is AT Central with three months worth of food, snacks, wipes and all things this hiker may need. My dog Zoey is having a tough time with all the odd smells, and the fact that she knows, Mom is off to the trail again. My hubby George is counting down when I’m leaving and when I’m coming home. The family is always the most emotional aspect of my hearts desire. Am I really doing this again? Prayfully I must ask the Lord to grant me this gift of walking, hiking the trail from Harper’s Ferry to Mt. Katahdin, and then south to McAfee Knob. It’s a distance of 1,500 or so miles so I’m thinking Mothers Day to Labor Day. Sounds reasonable.

Food Packed and Ready to Ship

The fun part is loading my backpack. I do look forward to this part. I’ve done it hundreds of times and am fairly proficient at it. First things first, is weighing each item that I carefully select for the trail. I would like to say that I’m a minimalist but the truth is, I like certain things. A pillow is a must. Some people use their puffy jacket as one but I require a real pillow. Mine is made of down, lightweight and does not need to be inflated. That’s my favorite piece of equipment next to my Quilt. Other than that, my inflatable pad, an umbrella and my collapsible titanium poles are my top five pieces of gear. I have “The One” tent and the G20-UL 42 Pack, both Gossamer products. They are high quality and the price is quite reasonable. All in all, my base weight is nearing 17 pounds, which is about as light as I can get. As long as I like to cook, I’ll always have a stove. Cold soaking is not for me. I want coffee or tea in the morning and a hot dinner at night. Being God wants me to hike for Him, he understands that I can’t live on bread alone.

Zoey Cant Help Herself- She’s always in the Midst of All Things

In seven days, I’ll be on a Jet Plane flying across United States to D.C. It is exciting and terrifying, all in the same thought. I am so looking forward to walking into a simpler life, one that has little to do but wake, eat, walk, eat, and sleep. It is such a beautiful rhythm of feet hitting the dirt, soil, rocks and roots, just walking from one place to the next. It’s much like the Israelis who left Egypt for the Promise Land. To a point, the Appalachian Trail is my heading towards a life flowing with milk and honey. A life simpler, easier and void of responsibilities. To worry about nothing but how far I will walk. The rest is ordained by the Lord. He already knows who I will meet and greet along the way, days if not years, before I. My only concern is to stay healthy and able-bodied, to keep moving forward, and to be guided by the Holy Spirit. So what’s next? A lot of good-bye’s, and farewells till I return, a couple of dinner party’s sending me on my way and a sad puppy when I walk out the door. My hubby George has lined up many projects that will keep him busy for the summer, and knowing George, he’ll have many dinner engagements and golf outings planned weekly. But even with all that, I will so miss my home sweet home.

Fun Times in Jackson, California

So as the countdown continues, please pray for my family. This is just as hard for them as it is for me. My sweet Lord, please protect me as I travel across country, please keep my family safe and Lord, watch over the people I will meet along the way. May you guide my walk, and may my steps be ordained by you, and you alone. Until we hit the trail, please keep my focus on you, every moment of everyday. And be my shining light along this well worn path. You have began this work in me, and I have complete trust that you will continue, until our job is done. With that, I commit this journey to your hands my sweet Jesus, and I will go wherever you need me to be. Amen…

In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6

Holy Week – A Way to Forgivenes

As I sit in my living room, my mind is overwhelmed with the thought of this week. Jesus knew what was to happen. Even when Peter denied the thought of Jesus leaving, literally put to death, the Lord rebuked his disciple, “ Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:33. We need to open our heart to things that are uncomfortable. The crucifixion makes me wonder, how much sin we truly have!

Bayside Church in Granite Bay, CA

I know for myself, I am full of sin. Everyday that passes, I count my blessings that Jesus has forgiven me. What a mess I make of my life, the countless times I say and do ungodly things, yet He still seeks after my own heart. Who is this God that loves us so deeply, who longs for us when we are broken and undesirable? Our one and only Jesus, that’s who.

Martis Peak overlooking Lake Tahoe

Last night I was sitting in church for Palm Sunday Service, the Pastor asked a question that knocked me off my seat. Who are you sharing your Jesus with? Are you keeping him to yourself or are you actually telling everyone you know and meet about the Lord? Honestly, I had to really think about that. It was quite convicting and when else, if not today, is there a better time to share His unending love.

Orange Pokers at Folsom Lake

Our Lord, my Jesus is my number one priority and deepest relationship, my partner for life. He is the one I go to when I open my eyes in the morning and when I close my eyes at night. He is the only person who really knows me, my every thought, desire and passion. Jesus is my light, my purpose, my true compass. When the world does what the world does, I can always look up and know that Jehovah has a plan. Because I surely do not understand this place we are temporarily residing in, and the broken people we share it with.

God’s Reflection

During this Holy Week, I want to be purposeful, knowing what transpired thousands of years ago. Our Savior rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, not a War Horse or Stallion, but a Colt. Being the Son of God was not about condemning or convicting, but about accepting and loving each and everyone of us. He came to earth to show us how to live, to take care of each other, to lead one another through times of heartache, grief and tribulation. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever we go, to lead by His example, in all we say and do.

Me and my dog Zoey on Trail

This week I sit with the reality that our precious and wonderful Jesus knew what was to happen. “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Mark 8:31

Small as a Mustard Seed

I am so grateful that I do not know when my life on this earth will end, as I do not believe that I could speak so freely about my death. Yet, I am not the great I am, and trusting that the Lord has made my life purposeful and meaningful, I am good with a surprise ending.

Dennis Tromberg, Photographer

My prayer for this week is that we find time to ponder why we are here. What purpose does the Lord have for us to fulfill. Does He want you to share the story of His life with someone or does He desire you to share your life with Him?

Pure as the Driven Snow

I can tell you that I love to share my life with Jesus, knowing that I surely do not want to do it alone. And when I share my life with the Lord, the world sees my joy and happiness that only our Heavenly Father can give. May you also walk through this week knowing that He was willing to sacrifice all he had, for you! Holy Week is a time of intention and reflection, a time of grace and forgiveness. May you embrace all that was given for your life, through Him. Easter is coming but let’s reflect on who and what Jesus did beforehand. Our one and only true love.

Appalachian Trail: Here I Come Again

Many of you have already heard the news but for the ones who are not in the loop, I’m heading back! Last year, I packed my bags, well my one backpack, and ventured out to the unknown, the Appalachian Trail. One of the oldest long-distant trails in the world. After some 700 miles, I was called back home to take care of my beautiful and loving Father, Dad.

My Dear Dad Jerry & His Dog Buddy

All of us have obligations, along with family and friends, that are near and dear to our hearts. My Dad is one of those giants in my life. He is the Last Mohican, the only living elder. I had the opportunity to leave my hike last year and help him return to a healthy, worthwhile and long-lasting life. After numerous surgeries and rehab, Dad was walking to the park, heading back to church and playing a round of golf. This could not have been done without the love and support of my sister Kari. She truly was the glue that held everything together. Our God is so good!

Dad in Minden, Nevada Teeing Up

I shared with my family, including Dad, that I wanted to return to the trail this year. There is something that calls me back. This love of nature and my intense desire to walk long-distances, are passions that my sweet Jesus placed on my heart. I cannot deny it or squelch it. And most importantly, I love sharing my faith with the hikers I meet along the way.

Some of the Gang from Last Year “The Walking Wounded”

Many have asked if I plan to start all over? To be considered a thru-hike you are required to hike the entire trail in one calendar year. Being I have already hiked from Georgia to Virginia, 700 plus miles, I decided to begin my hike this year at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

Harper’s Ferry is a logical choice to start. It happens to be the home of the ATC, otherwise known as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. And logistically, it is an easy place to land. I’ll fly into Washington D.C., board a train and within an hour, I’ll arrive in downtown Harper’s Ferry. Being I’m at the symbolic halfway point, I’ll continue 1,100 miles northbound to Maine. When I reach Mt. Katahdin, I’ll flip-flop back to Harper’s Ferry and head a little over 300 miles south to McAfee Knob. This will connect my footpath and all 2,194 miles will be covered. Sounds like a perfect plan, and God-willing, I’ll start this journey in mid-May.

Mt. Katahdin, Maine this Winter

So what’s next? I’m prepping by walking and hiking daily, or close to it. Being I live in NorCal, it’s been hit and miss with torrential rainfall this year. I’m always amazed by the quality of gear, and clothing is no exception. I am testing all of it, in the best and worse conditions. Rain, sleet and snow, it’s been worn, tested and reviewed. If only I could figure out a clothing option for humidity 🤔

My Training Partner Atsuko – One of my few friends that embrace the rain

The weather back east has been typical. Rainy and wet, but nothing like we’ve had on the west coast. Some hikers are already on the trail, braving through some cold temperatures and light snow flurries. By the time I arrive, it’ll be spring with warmer days and humidity on the horizon. I hope that I can slowly embrace the heat as it will be one of my biggest obstacles. There’s not much you can do but grin and bare it, while trying to do more miles in the early morning, and drinking lots of water with electrolytes.

Just Posted in Tennessee- 18 degrees 🥶

My next step is determining my resupply points and my daily mileage. I developed a Spreadsheet last year, which was promptly disregarded, as I couldn’t keep up with my daily mile projections. My lofty goal this go around is 100 miles per week, as I did on the Pacific Crest Trail, which may or may not happen. One step at a time, one day at a time, is honesty, all I can mustard up. God has a perfect plan laid out ahead of me and I am open to follow his lead.

One Pathway – One Step – One God

Today is seven weeks till I return to the Appalachian Trail. I am excited and thrilled to be part of something that is much bigger than me. Each time I plan and prep for these two legged adventures, I need to access my reasons and timing. The Lord is my source of inspiration and guidance. He will direct me, He will assure me, and he will pave my way. As we listen to his voice, and follow his ways, we will find peace in our heart and soul. I have a tremendous joy as I follow his path, one step at a time.

He goes before me. Thank you Lord for paving the way, long before I set foot on the trail. You are my strength, my guide and the light on my feet.